New guidelines have been published to assist Magistrates when deciding whether to send a case to The Crown Court. The general rule is that cases would be tried in the magistrate’s court unless the likely sentence is too high or there is a complex issue of law. Too often, our clients appear in The Crown Court having been needlessly sent there by Magistrates who have been too hasty in deciding that they do not have the sentencing powers to do so. This has a consequence for our clients who have to wait longer for their case to be concluded and becomes hugely expensive if they are not eligible for legal aid. There are of course many occasion where our clients choose to be tried in The Crown Court, this choice remains, however from March criminal defence solicitors will be able to argue that Magistrates ought to follow the guidelines for clients who see to remain in the Magistrates court.
Young Defendants When a young defendant appears accused with an adult, he or she have until now, appeared with the adult in the Magistrates Court or Crown Court. The new guidelines encourage the sending of young people to the Youth Court unless certain exceptions apply. This is welcome as the formality of the austere and outdated surroundings of The Crown Court are not appropriate for young people.